Radicals, Progressives, Liberals: “In Love with Change”
In a previous post, “Conservatives, conserving the constancies: What are they?”, we examined some principles common to many folks who would identify themselves as “social conservatives.”
While there are gray areas, it often helps to provide the antithesis of an
“–ism”, in order to help decide to which side of the aisle, the usher should escort you….
“Red or Blue…Right or Left… home team or visitor….
friend of the bride or the groom?”
A “radical” is defined as: one who holds radical or extreme convictions; in politics, one who advocates extreme governmental changes.
As Russell Kirk points out, it is much more difficult to catalogue the principles of the opponents of conservatives…ie. The Radicals.
Kirk cites five major schools of radical thought that have competed for public favor since the mid-1700’s:
The rationalism of the philosophes and Hume
The romantic emancipation of Rousseau and his allies (fed the French Revolution)
The utilitarianism of the Benthamites
The positivism of Comte’s school
The collectivistic materialism of Marx and other socialists
(guess where we are?…)
“This list leaves out those “scientific” doctrines, Darwinism chief among them, which have done so much to undermine the first principles of a conservative order.”
Kirk points out that it is difficult to express these radicalisms in terms of a common denominator, and that it is probably presumptuous and foreign to the philosophical tenets of conservatism.
That being said, Kirk, in a “hastily generalizing fashion” details how “radicalism since 1790 has tended to attack the prescriptive arrangement of society on the following grounds—
- The perfectibility of man and the illimitable progress of society: meliorism.
Radicals believe that education, positive legislation, and alteration of environment can produce men like gods; they deny that humanity has a natural proclivity toward violence and sin.
2. Contempt for tradition. Reason, impulse, and materialistic determinism are severally preferred as guides to social welfare, trustier than the wisdom of our ancestors. Formal religion is rejected and a variety of anti-Christian systems are offered as substitutes.
3. Political levelling. Order and privilege are condemned; total democracy, as direct as practicable, is the professed radical ideal. Allied with this spirit, generally, is a dislike of old parliamentary arrangements and an eagerness for centralization and consolidation.
4. Economic levelling. The ancient rights of property, especially property in land, are suspect to almost all radicals; and collectivistic reformers hack at the institution of private property root and branch.
5. As a fifth point, one might try to define a common radical view of the state’s function; but here the chasm of opinion between the chief schools of innovation is too deep for any satisfactory generalization.
One can only remark that radicals unite in detesting Burke’s description of the state as a divinely ordained moral essence, a spiritual union of the dead, the living, and those yet unborn.
The radical, when all is said, is a neoterist, in love with change.”*
As one reviews some key characteristics of “the radicals” one can’t help but noting these same key characteristics also being advanced by politicians that publicize themselves as conservatives!
Concepts including: centralization, utilitarian workforce development, collectivism, materialism, consolidation, globalization over localization, nationalized education standards, promulgation of Darwinism, science as god, redistribution of private property, and of course “innovation”, the systematic mechanization of formatting citizens for societal management.
“Oh dear, I’m not recognizing anyone here…perhaps we are at the wrong wedding…
The wrong rally….the wrong ballpark…or the wrong Rotunda?”
Which precipitates another conundrum.
If governments are to govern by the consent of the people—
And a government continues to drain the coffers of future generations to subsidize its present radical government as god agenda…
How is it that, a government promoting immediate gratification, abortion of citizens, indefinite indenture of debt servitude, no hope, and only “change”, –anticipates any future citizens willing enough to join the chain gang in which they never gave consent to forge?
To say the least, this is NOT a fair “social compact” to anyone’s posterity.
The youth would be fools to accept this bondage…. Or the challenge to persevere.
Unless of course, they happen to have been taught those traditions, virtues, prescriptives, and principles, of Faith, Family and Liberty under God, that have successfully propelled mankind for millennia.
These intergenerational transmissions of values, are the very same traditions, veneration for God, respect for human life, respect for parents, principles, and virtuous wisdom, which the radical proponents of Progressivism’s “hope and chains for the future” have systematically set out to dethrone and destroy.
If Conservative heroes define themselves by the judgment of a future they see it as their task to bring about,
It’s about time for our children to get some Real Conservative heroes.
It appears that true conservatives recognize that history is the unfolding of Godly Design. Quoting Russell Kirk again:
“The true conservative thinks of this process, which looks like chance or fate, as, rather, the Providential operation of a moral law of polarity. And Burke, could he see our century, never would concede that a consumption-society, so near to suicide, is the end for which Providence, has prepared man.
If a conservative order is indeed to return, we ought to know the tradition which is attached to it, so that we may rebuild society; if it is not to be restored, still we ought to understand conservative ideas so that we may rake from the ashes what scorched fragments of civilization escape the conflagration of unchecked will and appetite.”
As His-story continues to unfold, we had best get in line with His plan, His traditions, His principles, and under His protection; and successfully transmit these preserving truths to our heirs and our platoons.
So that, whether we rebuild and restore society, or rake through the ashes of “Rome”, we will be found faithful to Him Who holds the future of both conservatives and radicals.
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from you heart as long as you live.
Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words
So that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”
You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens…The LORD spoke…declared…. He commanded…He wrote them ….He directed…. to teach….”
Troops are on the ground…..
*Russell Kirk in The Conservative Mind
Never Give In, The Extraordinary Character of Winston Churchill, by Stephen Mansfield
The Biblical and Talmudic Antecedents by Shmuel Feuerstein